Kurt Russell: The Star of Winemaking

Kurt Russell — you know his movies but do you know his wine? Labeled as “Gogi,” it’s not about his celebrity; it’s about producing distinctive and well-crafted wine. We talked to Kurt about his love, passion and newest endeavor as a winemaker.

“I’ve only had a few things in my life that have garnered my full attention and this is now one of them. In the last five years I have really concentrated on wine making. I found it a wonderful opportunity to begin to learn about something I really wanted to do and I’m really happy I had a friend (Greg Garner) who said ‘You need to act on this,’ and he introduced me to Peter and Rebecca Work. They turned out to be, for me, just the right people.” In reference to Peter and Rebecca, Kurt is talking about the proprietors of Ampelos wine, a vineyard and winery located in the Santa Rita Hills.

How he discovered the area and subsequently Ampelos was during the making of a Tarantino movie in the region. It was then when he realized the climate was great for producing particular types of wine and approached Ampelos. Peter and Rebecca did not know his celebrity status, which made for a more rewarding collaboration in that they concentrated on the crafting of his wine, not his presence as a movie star. “They had no interest in just slapping my name on the bottle, and gave me fully the opportunity to create it the way I wanted,” he said. Furthermore, he respected their farming techniques, particularly as organic, biodynamic and sustainable in practice. Not only that, but Ampelos produces award-winning wine. Obviously, they know how to craft a good bottle.

Kurt thinks of his wine in terms of making movies. “I know exactly what I want to do and wine making is strikingly similar to making movies.” What he means is that you must throw yourself fully into the process. “Be an artist. Do so in whatever art you choose. You want to feel your audience and hope that they will share in the experience the way you want it to be perceived,” he says. “The formulation of a wine is like a movie in that you get the best people together, the best director and it’s a production. When we put it in a barrel it’s like editing a movie.” He also adds, “The artistry is in the blending. The wine that ultimately goes into a bottle will be owned by people I’ll never meet, but when they pour it they’re pouring me out of the bottle.”

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